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Ed Garczyk wears many different hats

September 21, 2012
By KIM NORTH - Times Leader Sports Writer (knorth@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

If you've gotten your hair cut in Shadyside in the last 40 years, chances are Eddie Garczyk cut it.

If you've made a first down for the Tigers' football team in the last 49 years, chances are Garczyk moved the chains.

If you're old enough to remember The Shop Band, he was the founder of it.

Article Photos

SHADYSIDE’S ED Garczyk is in his 49th year of working on the chain gang during Tigers’ football games. He will be on the sideline tonight when Shadyside hosts Linsly at Fleming Field.

If you've ever been to his barbershop, tucked away in an alley off the main drag in Shadyside, you've experienced a lifetime of memories through his collection of memorabilia, mostly sports pictures. Some are autographed by the person themselves.

Raised in Maynard, Garczyk matriculated to Tiger Town in 1962. He was asked to work on the chains during Shadyside football games, and started the next season.

As they say, the rest is history, and still in the making.

This is Garczyk's 49th year of walking up and down the opposing sidelines at Fleming Field.

"Butch Patrone couldn't continue holding the chains and they asked me if I would like to do it," he said during a recent interview inside his one-chair shop. I've been there ever since."

He said almost all of the opposing coaches over the years have been pretty good to the chain gang.

"I can't ever remember having a problem with any coach. They were all good guys."

When asked if he had a favorite team or player, he politely said, "No. All the teams had good players. It's hard to single out anyone or any team.

"I think this year's team is going to be pretty good," he noted. "They've got some good, young kids and big kids. They're a good bunch of kids."

And most of them visit him every two or three weeks.

"Over the years, a lot of the kids have come here to get their hair cut," he said.

He got his start in barbering in 1963 for George Munjas. He started his own business, at his current location, in 1968.

"I was working for the Pennsylvania railroad as a clerk," he recalled. "They were always moving me around and I wanted to be centrally located with my family.

"I also liked barbering. A friend of mine had a shop in St. Clairsville and I used to loaf there a lot," he continued. "I went to Wheeling Barber College and got all of the training I needed to be a barber."

So how did he end up in Shadyside?

"My long-time friends kid me about coming here on a one-way ticket and never leaving," he said with a smile. "I loved the Ohio Valley and didn't want to leave it. Shadyside seemed like a nice, little town that is unique in its own way."

As far as his collection of memorabilia, that got started through performances of his band.

"I used to play at all the baseball teams dances," he said, noting that Blaine, Lafferty, Fairpoint, Barton, Maynard, etc. all had teams. "Back in the day, you didn't shake hands with your opponent after the game. There was so much animosity between the teams ... they were rivals. So that wasn't accepted.

"But through my band, I got to meet a lot of those players at the dances and one thing led to another. The Niekro brothers (Phil and Joe) played in the league then, and through them I made a lot of contacts over the years."

One corner in his shop is totally dedicated to the Detroit Pistons, thanks to long-time friend John Ciszewski, a Shadyside native who worked in the Pistons' front offices for many years.

There are autographed pictures of Dennis Rodman, Isiah Thomas and Chuck Daly on a team poster, as well as plaques commemorating the opening of The Palace in Auburn Hills, the Pistons' home floor.

But the biggest, and I mean the biggest, piece in Garczyk's collection is a shoe worn by Hall of Famer Bob Lanier. The sneaker measures a size 22.

"I've been to Detroit a zillion times," Garczyk said. "I wish I could go a lot more."

If you attend tonight's Linsly at Shadyside football game at Fleming Field, when the Tigers make a first down, it will be Garczyk who moves the sticks.

And, by the way, if you need a haircut Saturday morning, his shop will be open.

And, if you have a couple of days, he will tell you a story behind each, and every, piece of memorabilia.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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